Coming off of the PGA Championship, the PGA Tour schedule rolls on with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
A lack of course history has plagued us in recent weeks, but that couldn't be further from the truth at Colonial, which has been on the radar since 1946.
How is it playing recently, and what does it mean for this week?
Let's dig into the course, the key stats, the win simulations, and the best bets of the week.
You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.
Colonial Country Club Course Info & Key Stats
Distance: 7,209 (average: ~20 yards shorter than the average par 70)
Fairway Acres/Yard: 3.3 (narrow: PGA average is 4.1)
Average Green Size: 5,000 square feet (small: ~83% of PGA average)
Green Type: Bentgrass
Past 5 Winning Scores: -14, -15, -13, -20, -10
Past 5 Cut Lines: +1, -2, +2, +2, +4
Key Stats (in Order of Importance): Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (emphasis on Driving Accuracy), Strokes Gained: Putting, Birdie or Better Rate
Despite a short-to-average overall length, Colonial doesn't play particularly easy, though winning scores have been in the double-digit range regardless. It's not uncommon to see an over-par cut line.
The par 5s are pretty tough from a scoring standpoint and have ranked top-six in difficulty in each of the past three years compared to other PGA Tour courses.
It's difficult to gain strokes off the tee here, given the narrow setup, and so accurate drivers will get a leg up (though there's always way more to scoring well than just hitting fairways).
Notably, we had an emphasis on wedge play last week at the PGA, but at Colonial, strokes gained: around the green correlates quite weakly to overall strokes gained, so we're looking more for ball-striking and putting this week than simply getting up and down.
Golfers With Great Course/Event History
Former winners at Colonial who are in this field include Jason Kokrak (2021), Daniel Berger (2020), Kevin Na (2019), Justin Rose (2018), Kevin Kisner (2017), Jordan Spieth (2016), Chris Kirk (2015), Zach Johnson (2010, 2012), and Rory Sabbatini (2007).
The best strokes gained averages among golfers with at least eight rounds here since 2012 (via FantasyNational) include Jordan Spieth (2.5), Collin Morikawa (2.3), Justin Rose (2.1), Webb Simpson (1.8), Kevin Na (1.7), Tony Finau (1.4), Justin Thomas (1.4), Kevin Kisner (1.3), Charley Hoffman (1.2), Emiliano Grillo (1.2), Brian Harman (1.1), Danny Lee (1.1), Daniel Berger (1.1), Gary Woodland (1.1), and Patrick Reed (1.0).
Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their FanDuel Sportsbook win odds.
Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets
While the model likes Justin Thomas quite a bit, this doesn't factor in the potential for a post-major-win letdown. Mathematically speaking, Thomas is a solid value in the betting market, however. Sometimes for me, the subjectivity wins out, and I'll likely look elsewhere this week for my betting card but still love JT for DFS well enough.
Scottie Scheffler is the co-favorite in the betting market and isn't that far off from expected value all things considered. Even though he has the Texas narrative, Scheffler is offered at odds a little too short for me.
The second tier is not short on big names with Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, and Will Zalatoris. Of them, you can't really go too wrong. I'm most focused on Hovland, who should get a bump up for the fact that Colonial doesn't require elite around-the-green play. Morikawa also has my attention.
After locking in Hovland, I next went to Sam Burns, who is getting slight value recommendations in the model. I would assume a lack of good course history has something to do with it, but Burns in 2022 isn't Burns in 2018 or 2019.
Other names I'm eyeing for outrights include Talor Gooch, Kevin Na, and Maverick McNealy. For top-10s, those guys all work, too. Top-20 targets include Erik Van Rooyen, Lucas Herbert, Kyoung-Hoon Lee, and Ian Poulter.
Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the Charles Schwab Challenge
All stats cited below originate at FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the past calendar year and is adjusted based on my field strength and recency tweaks. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. All ranks and percentile ranks are among the field. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.
Best of the Best
Viktor Hovland (FanDuel Salary: $11,200 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +1900) - I think we're getting a discount on Hovland's salary due to there being enough studs in the field that it's justified but also because it's been a minute since Hovland has really popped. He's nestled between 18th and 41st in his past four stroke-play events, yet the ball-striking hasn't been an issue. It's just been the around-the-green play, which we can de-emphasize a bit this week. He's also due for expected putting regression. I'm planting my flag next to Hovland this week.
Sam Burns ($10,200 | +2900) - Burns' irons and putter were on last week at the PGA Championship, and while I'm not using that to anticipate this week's results (because that's not an accurate way to do things), it's nice to see him do it big at a major. Burns is in the 90th percentile in adjusted ball-striking over the past year and a 97th-percentile putter as well. While he has had two underwhelming starts at Colonial, that was before he broke out.
Others to Consider:
Scottie Scheffler ($11,800 | +1200) - Has no holes in his game and is bound to have a high-floor outing after a missed cut at Southern Hills.
Collin Morikawa ($11,500 | +1800) - Might be the forgotten man other than Hovland while most look at JT, Scheffler, Spieth, and Zalatoris.
Talor Gooch ($10,400 | +4100) - Has some accuracy off the tee and 91st-percentile irons.
Kevin Na ($9,800 | +4400) - Na is a former winner (2019) at Colonial and sets up well again. He's a 62nd-percentile fairway finder and just a 6th-percentile distance-gainer, so the off-the-tee data helps him here. Along with that, he's got 89th-percentile irons and an elite short game.
Maverick McNealy ($9,700 | +7500) - Though McNealy is just about field average in accuracy, that works. And he ultimately sits in the 73rd percentile in adjusted ball-striking relative to this field over the past year. One thing he just does well is putts. He's got 73rd-percentile (there's that number again) expected putting even if we remove his great splits from over 15 feet. McNealy has three straight made cuts here while gaining off the tee, with approach, and with putting in each.
Others to Consider:
Tom Hoge ($9,600 | +6500) - 88th-percentile irons and more accurate than long off the tee.
Brian Harman ($9,500 | +5000) - Does everything well but nothing elite -- aside from hit fairways. Has played here a ton.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($9,300 | +1000) - Shouldn't play himself out of this one; accurate off the tee and a slight plus everywhere.
Chris Kirk ($8,700 | +3600) - The odds and salary are a huge mismatch this week. Kirk finished T5 at the PGA Championship last week and won here in 2015, so he was bound to get bet down to a short number. That said, he has a great case: he's an 88th-percentile ball-striker who struggles around the greens (32nd percentile) and has driving accuracy (76th percentile). He'll be a bit chalky but is unlikely to be prohibitively popular even at a value salary.
Erik Van Rooyen ($8,600 | +11000) - Van Rooyen is someone I'm bumping up due to the around-the-green narrative. Removing around-the-green strokes gained from the equation, he's an 87th-percentile golfer in this field. We can look at it this way: if EVR is leaning on his wedges too much, it was a bad week anyway. We should target him for the upside.
Others to Consider:
Sebastian Munoz ($9,000 | +5500) - Cut and T3 here in his career; great ball-striker with plus accuracy.
Joel Dahmen ($8,600 | +14000) - Appeal goes up when emphasis on around-the-green goes down. Two top-20s here in four starts.
Austin Smotherman ($8,100 | +22000) - Don't think we have to go low often this week for value but does everything but chip well.